Reviews: Unfinished Novels Released to Book Crossing #1

I have a series of novels that I have never finished reading and in some cases, couldn’t face reading at all. In the interests of freeing up space on my bookshelves, and letting other people have a chance to read them, I have released these novels on Book Crossing.

The Second Coming: A Love Story
Scott Pinsker

I received this book for review, but the cover, the story, the everything put me off reading. It has been sitting on my shelf to be read for at least 3 years, so it is time for it to go.

 

NIGHT PEOPLE, Book 1 – Things We Lost in the Night: A Memoir of Love and Music in the 60s with Stark Naked and the Car Thieves (Volume 1)
Larry J Dunlap

I received this book for review, but the cover put me off reading. Then when I attempted to read it, I couldn’t get through the dry text of the first chapter. It has been sitting on my shelf to be read for at least 2 years, so it is time for it to go.

 

Delivering the Phantom Moon
Niro Raine

I received this book for review. When I attempted to read it several times, I couldn’t get through the first chapter due to a number of factors. The character names seemed forced, the humour was just odd and I didn’t love the text formatting (funny how the small things can add up). It has been sitting on my shelf to be read for at least 2 years, so it is time for it to go.

 

 

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Review: Natasha Carthew – The Light that Gets Lost

The Light that Gets Lost
Natasha Carthew

Trey’s family was shot by a religious figure while he hid in the cupboard. Years in and out of foster homes has seen Trey finally end up in a compound run by priests – where perhaps he will be able to find his parents’ killer and enact his revenge.

20617991Despite starting out like a corrective detention redemption and revenge novel, this rapidly degenerates to a Lord of the Flies drama. Trey is infected with a Demon that burns to burn things. The girl he likes has interesting looking scars on her back. Then all the adults go to hell, and the kids wreak havoc on everything. Power corrupts. What is new?

The imagery drove me nuts. Anyone for seeping red, sticky red, blood? Anyone want Trey to set fire to his own head, so that the ashes can match his heart, the landscape, everything else in sight?

I didn’t love a single one of the characters. Their language and consistent shortening of all words and the repetitive and obvious thoughts and actions that each ‘performed’ felt strange and strained. Trey, you’re an idiot. I don’t know how old you are really, but pull yourself together man!

This could be called future fiction, because the novel hints the whole time about the world outside the compound possibly being even worse for children than what they face with the Preacher in charge. Something to go along with that was the ending of the novel. If life out there is so good, why hadn’t they just done that earlier? Escape.

This is not a gripping novel. I drove myself to finish reading it, but it was a struggle. I had picked it up once, put it back down after trying to slog through the painful internal dialogue of Trey, then picked it up again because after all, I requested it! 1 star. Don’t bother wasting your time.

1star

Bloomsbury | 1st December 2016 | AU $19.99 | Paperback

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Review: Norma Jennings – Passenger from Greece

Passenger from Greece
Norma Jennings

Olivia Reed wanted to see the world – so she chose the career of a flight attendant. A brush with death ignites a romance that she wasn’t expecting – but it’s complicated with her work and family expectations.

26865265Dear me. This novel. Where to start with its faults. There weren’t enough clues for the reader to really feel like they were on the scene. I was told how to feel about every situation, I didn’t need to think for myself. Again, the blurb gives away too much of the novel contents.

Romance hey? ‘The One’? Ugh. The sex scene in this was just awkward, and I swiftly skipped the pages. This must be a woman’s fiction romance, but I expect more from my characters. Do you have no backbone? Oh wait, you do, but I’m still not convinced. You’re so gullible! And oh, you trusty friend, why didn’t I love you before?

I couldn’t have cared less what they ate! The amount of time spent looking at and eating food could have been used on developing the characters and trying to get me to be more sympathetic about their problems.

I couldn’t get why they were so terrified of drug smugglers. Surely they could have just been more calm about it? Stop touching the evidence guys! And for goodness sakes, stop acting so guilty! How dumb can you be?

The plot was completely transparent, and not in a good way. Hmm, I wonder which of the tiny cast of characters might be at fault? Way too easy to answer. I think it was the blurb that waned me off. It wanted to tackle too many issues without enough substance in its characters.

It’s a bad sign when I want to fill a review with rhetorical questions. A really, really bad sign. I put off reading this for months, and I fully understand why I did. I read it so that I wouldn’t need to bring it home with me from my overseas trip. 1 star. Don’t waste your time.

1star

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Review: Judy Bruce – Voices in the Wind

Voices in the Wind
Judy Bruce

Megan has returned home for a funeral, and ends up facing more than she bargained for. She’s just finished the Bar exams that mean she’s a full-fledged lawyer. She comes to a practice that is being embezzled and a stage set for death.

25041953This book was such a disappointment. All the exciting things promised in the blurb turned out to be completely predictable. The grand secret? Meh. I wasn’t that convinced that her dad had done anything wrong. It’s hard to cope with children, of any kind!

The progression was soooo slow. Thing one happened. Then there was a bit of uninspiring soul searching. Then thing 2. Oh wait, she needs to run out into the middle of the woods. And then… Oh no, we’ve been distracted by childhood memories. Oh yes, back to the main storyline. Oh wait, we diverged again.

This was a classic example of telling vs showing storytelling. The fight scenes which could have been exciting were like the boring blow by blows (literally) of a boxer’s match. There was no feeling of character, and honestly I couldn’t tell the difference between the different people – I didn’t even remember their names. Megan… And ah, dad? Uncle Bill? No idea on the rest of them, even the ‘blonde hunk’.

I barely finished this novel. Honestly, I can’t see who it might appeal to. It just didn’t take my fancy. The author very nicely asked me to review it, and kindly sent me the first two novels in the series, but I won’t be even attempting the second one in the hopes it gets better.

1star

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Review: Glenda Millard – Stars at Oktober Bend

Glenda Millard
Stars at Oktober Bend

Alice’s words are broken. Her mind is broken. Her words on the page are broken. She composes poems that are broken. Manny is broken too, by what he has seen. Together, communicating through poems, they start to forge a new future.

The Stars at Oktober Bend | COVER ROUGHS 3 (21 September 2015)Oh god. This is yet another slow paced novel. I just couldn’t get into it. Not only was the pace slow, the way of writing of the novel reminded me of Joyous and Moonbeam, which was another I guess, defective mind story? I didn’t like that novel either. So sue me for appreciating well formed and beautiful descriptive sentences, rather than disordered stream of consciousness.

The blurb has more details in it than what I got from 3/4 of the novel. I didn’t know that Manny’s past was as a soldier. I didn’t know that Alice was damaged from an assault. I get why it’s important to talk about the aftermath of these, but did it have to be so boring? I would have loved flashbacks, or warnings, or anything a little more racy.

On the only positive part of the novel for me was the cover of the novel. Very pretty. The title itself makes very little sense until later in the novel, but the cover is pretty! Those lovely black streaks. That didn’t redeem it enough for me though.

I feel like this is another 1 star from me, which is really disappointing. I have read a number of really good novels lately, and maybe that has set the bar higher. Seriously though, the pace was too slow, the writing was an odd style, and I didn’t finish reading it.

1star

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Review: Kate Hamer – The Girl in the Red Coat

The Girl in the Red Coat
Kate Hamer

A moment’s lapse of attention and Beth’s daughter Carmel is swept away. As Beth tries to come to terms with her grief, Carmel is in her own story surrounded with adults who don’t care about her.

23289469Carmel is so incredibly dumb. For an 8-year old, hasn’t she been taught about going off with strangers? Even if they do profess to be related, didn’t she ever know how to call other people? Or remember her own phone number? Doesn’t she know how to call the police? Why didn’t she ask to go to the funeral? Ugh. I couldn’t love her.

I felt more sorry for Beth and felt that she was more realistically portrayed. Unfortunately there wasn’t very much of her story, and no depth. How can anyone understand a mother’s grief? Why does she have to move on?

The supernatural in this novel happened too late for me to save it. And really, it just proved the religious righteousness, and then in the end nothing more was made of it. If you read this novel, you’ll understand – but I don’t recommend you read it at all.

I have no complaints about the language, or the world building (although since it is set in what I would call regular times that’s not a big problem). The pacing of this novel was its undoing. Sooooo slow. I tried to keep puttering along with reading it, but nothing significant occurred that anchored me into the reading.

I confess, I did not finish this novel. I have so many other good things to read, I couldn’t force myself to finish it. I got about half-way in, stopped reading for a couple of days, tried to get back into it, and then just read the last three chapters. I can fairly safely say that I didn’t miss anything, since it took a good long many years to get through the rest of the ‘trials and tribulations’.

1star

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Review: Matthew Selwyn – **** or The Anatomy of Melancholy

**** or The Anatomy of Melancholy
Matthew Selwyn

Sex – it’s the new currency. Men reign supreme. Women are simply boobs on sticks. Warning – this is a bad novel. I’m sure you think I didn’t finish this novel. But I persevered! I hoped for something redeeming. But there just wasn’t anything there worth saving.

23876717The author has a fabulous grasp of inventive high profile vocabulary with a mix of swear and slang words spread in. It seems as if he’s taken the dictionary and swallowed it. That being said, I could see this style working in a more structured and focussed novel.

I just couldn’t get away from the confusing bubble of words being constantly spat at me. The characters were one dimensional, which was fine because they were supposed to be women in their place. The protagonist came through as a man stroking his own ego and penis and that was certainly some solid characterisation – but in the wrong way. Bombarded by constant reminders of his penis’ superiority, it was difficult to get beyond those thoughts.

I’m sure this novel is supposed to be a powerful social commentary on the present world. Instead it comes across as an insane babble of internal consciousness flow that adds nothing to current informed literature. The one thing I got out of this novel was on page 154 – ‘Napoleon’s penis was dismembered and sold to an American urologist’. Now, who ever knew that fact?

If you want something with sex and commentary – PLEASE DON’T CHOOSE THIS NOVEL. There are far better examples on the market, 2094 for example. If you even just want some titillating sex scenes, Mercedes Lackey writes better ones! I wouldn’t go so far to read Fifty Shades of Grey instead – that has its own problems with the depiction of sex. If lesbian sex is more your style, pick something with an actual storyline, like The Purveyor.

This novel request actually went though to my spam mail. I fished it out, I assumed it went there because most **** do by default, and I guess it had enough other trigger words in it. I almost wish I hadn’t fished it out, but other people deserve to be warned.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I can enjoy sex and swearing in the right context. But this novel didn’t leave me feeling anything other than dirty. If I could give negative eggs, I would. This makes Marked look like a literary piece of fiction.

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Review: Kristen Cast & P.C. Cast – Marked

Marked
Kristen Cast & P.C. Cast

A clueless teenager is Marked with a blue tattoo on her forehead. This mark makes her a vampire, and she must learn how to adapt to her new environment or die.

30183I can’t believe I opted to listen to this. 2 hours into the 10 hour audio recording, I gave up. Some of this fault might have been the reader. The voice was breathy, with a strong US accent. I’m sure it was supposed to convey lots of feeling, but mostly it just made me think she was vacuous.

Ugh, filled with such boppy teenage crap that just didn’t do it for me. Really? Completely clueless. Sure her step-dad is a bastard, and she has to live under his rule, but seriously? She just wants to ‘fit in’, but we don’t even learn what is so different about her. This was so bad, I can’t even remember the name of the main character, except that her grandmother calls her ‘Redbird’.

Everything felt overdone and stereotypical. Blah, blah, children of night. Not everything that is dark is evil etc etc. Things are not as they seem. Wow, vampires are beautiful. Vampires like blood. Oh look, a potential romantic interest. Oh wait, he’s human and his blood smells good.

There wasn’t nearly enough background to the novel. Maybe I just missed it, as I gave up listening by the time she got to the School of Night, but it wasn’t clear why she was sick and how her grandmother knew what to do with her. The biological explanation of how vampires came to exist in the world.

My care level is so low for this novel that I didn’t even bother looking up how to spell things correctly to write this review. Or the main character’s name. Oops?

This was so bad I ended up just wiki-ing the novel to see how it finished, and realised that even if I had kept reading it, I still would have been disappointed. I can’t believe there are 12 books in this series. Even Twilight is better than this. 1 begrudging star from me.

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Review: Leah Raeder – Black Iris

Black Iris
Leah Raeder

I’m not even sure I can write a blurb for this novel, it was so unsatisfying. Complex relationships and a F/F/M love-triangle combined with copious amounts of drugs and a couple of mental illnesses thrown in does not make a good book.

9781476786421This book was raw, rough and sometimes hard to follow. I am a serial ignorer of chapter titles and headings, particularly when reading an e-book. It took me a couple of chapters before I realised that yes, it was all from one perspective, but no, the time wasn’t proceeding in a linear fashion, and yes, some of those were flashbacks, and no, I couldn’t work out from Laney’s unreliable narrating whether things actually happened. It all came across with the same level of importance and the same amount of crudity.

I feel like I am betraying the queer community for saying this, but I don’t think it’s a supportive book for those going through acceptance issues. I appreciate what this novel is doing in terms of trying to expose sexualities and gender balances to a wider community of readers. However, I felt that the execution of this was too extreme for most people to relate to. The important messages were drowned by the characters’ sex and drugs.

There was sex and drugs and sex and abuse left, right and centre. I’ve read other novels with those things in it, and it hasn’t bothered me. Some of the best books I have read manage to make those things available to the reader, by not scaring them off. If anything, this novel seemed to enjoy disquieting the reader for no purpose,

Something that I didn’t agree with at all was the treatment of serious mental illnesses. Two of the characters had bipolar disorder, and the other had borderline personality disorder. No-one made an effort to medication professionally, instead they abused the medications they had and combined it with as many drugs as possible. If it was just them affecting themselves, I’d be ok with that – it’s their business. But when they are affecting close family members and causing deaths, there’s something seriously wrong.

I felt entirely confused and turned around by the time I got to the end. And I never felt any satisfaction. Laney seemed happy ripping holes in as many other people’s lives as possible, but I wasn’t happy with the way things turned out. The things she gets away with, the forgiveness she demands from other people, everything was wrong.

I had to let the book sit for a while before I could review it. Even now, I can feel the rotten taste of it in my mouth. I literally felt dirty once I had read it. I didn’t walk away from it feeling like I had gotten positive out of it – all I’d seen was what the worst of the world had to offer.

Yes, I kept reading it to the end. Yes, I didn’t want to walk away from it. But no, I shouldn’t have started reading it in the first place. Stay far, far away and shop for something with similar themes but a more satisfying ending (I’d suggest Scars, The Burn Journals, The Admirer and Keeping You a Secret). In fact, even the worst of the queer/mental illness novels that I have reviewed on this blog so far are better than this one.

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Review: Mark Radford – Virgin Quest

Virgin Quest

Mark Radford

Tom is ready to race in the Virgin quest, a staged performance of single men performing running and resisting temptations in order to win an honest woman. Tom continues to prove his morality, but who knows which side will win?

virginquestI won this novel in a GoodReads first reads giveaway. Otherwise, honestly, I wouldn’t have bothered finishing it. At a pathetic 100-odd pages long, 46 pages in and I was rushing to finish it. Not for the right reasons.

I don’t get the race’s point in the first place. Or why Tom’s mother is so against it. What’s going to happen? They’re going to drop out and get sex anyway? Are general women so bad that you have to race to get them?

I didn’t understand where this was taking place. All over the world? In a little world set by the author? Where was it occurring in time? What was the athlete’s village? Should I imagine it is an Olympics venue?

This is apparently a satire on the romance game, with a touch of mystery All I got from it was a vague sense of being cheated. The idea had merit, but it didn’t feel particularly well thought out and the execution was poor.

The language is halting, the conversations disjointed, and the characters one-sided. The bad blokes are clearly bad, and the mystery never really builds. I’m happy Tom ended up with some girl, but I don’t see why he had to race to get there.

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